Friday, July 13, 2018

Tomi Lahren Begs the Question on Abortion

Opposing unwelcome government intrusion into our daily lives includes supporting legal abortion, according to conservative spokeswoman Tomi Lahren.

Never a stranger to controversy, her recent comments defending her views about Roe vs. Wade and the legality of abortion in the United States on Fox and Friends do deserve an adequate response, as opposed to much of the name calling and personal attacks that are all too typical of political or social discourse today.

In a piece for her Fox News Column, “Final Thoughts”, Tomi Lahren states the following:

“I’m saying this as someone who would personally choose life, but also feels it’s not the government’s place to dictate. This isn’t a black and white issue and I would never judge anyone in that position. I believe the way to encourage someone to choose life is to treat her with compassion, understanding and love, not government regulation. Let’s be honest - the federal government does few things well, and I believe regulating social issues is an area where it fails. Let the churches, the non-profits, and the community groups step in, not almighty Uncle Sam.”

Many may remember the brief firestorm she created among pro-life conservatives after she asserted her pro-choice position during an appearance on the American talk show, “The View” in Spring 2017 to the glowing endorsement of the pro-choice Left, saying:

“You know what? I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well,” Lahren said.”

And I absolutely agree with her. We shouldn’t push for government to intrude in people’s decisions. We should leave individual families alone to deal with making the decision to choose an abortion. We should keep the government from interfering with a woman’s body.
I agree completely, if: The unborn are not human. If it so happens that the unborn are not human, then abortion is morally no big deal any more than plastic surgery is. Go ahead and have it.
However, if the unborn are in fact human beings, then we shouldn’t simply excuse the intentional killing of them in our laws any more than we would the killing of a newborn or even a toddler. This is where Ms. Lahren makes her mistake. She simply bypasses the question, “What are the unborn?” and proceeds directly to talking points that can fit into a short sentence.

For instance, would she say the same thing if the law allowed the killing of born children? Imagine a law was passed several decades ago that allowed parents to kill their unwanted children up to two years of age, and a Supreme Court Justice was nominated who expressly wanted to overturn such a law. Would Ms. Lahren object to this as well, saying that the question should be “left to the churches, community groups, and non-profits instead of the Almighty Uncle Sam”? I would hope that she had the moral clarity to say “no”.

For another example, if her neighbors were planning to kill one of their toddlers, would Ms. Lahren feel compelled to call on government authorities in the form of law enforcement and Child Protective Services to stop the killing? Or would she leave it up to the churches and non-profits, because “Government does few things well”. I think everyone, politically Right or Left, would consider this horrendous, not to mention absurd.

This raises a question: Then why not protect the unborn from being intentionally killed? Some might respond by saying that there is a significant difference, but ah! That is the question. What difference is there that makes them less worthy of our protection? She never offers an explanation, which means she has done what pro-life philosopher Francis Beckwith calls “Begging the Question”; that is, assuming one’s position is true while trying to prove it. She doesn’t offer any arguments for her statements that the government should leave her alone when considering abortion, or the more broad assertion that the government cannot legislate effectively on moral issues. Most people who make this claim have no problem with the government banning murder, or sexual violence, or spousal abuse. They only make this claim about abortion because they simply assume that the unborn are not human, when that is precisely the question that must be resolved in the abortion debate.

If the unborn are human, just like the toddlers and newborns in the examples above, then they are just as worthy of protection from being intentionally killed as the toddler is. The question now becomes what relevant difference sets them apart from being protected in our society and legal system? As philosopher Stephen Schwarz points out in his book The Moral Question of Abortion, all of the differences between the born and the unborn fall into four categories that can be remembered with the "SLED" acronym:


  • Size: It’s true, the unborn are much smaller than the newborns or toddlers I mentioned in my hypothetical cases. But so what? How big does one have to be before they deserve to be protected from harm? As an adult man, I am bigger in my body size than many women, including Ms. Lahren, but it is odd to say that this grants me special protections from harm. If anything, it seems the smaller someone is, the more effort we should put towards protecting them.
  • Level of Development: Yes, the unborn are not as developed as the born are, and can’t do everything a born person can. But why does that determine whether we can kill someone or not? As another hypothetical, imagine I have two sisters, aged 6 and 18. They do have differences in their development. The older sister is more developed mentally, is more developed physically(she may play a college level sport) and is mature sexually. Her six year old sister possesses none of that, but it would be insane to assert that she is less deserving of our efforts to keep her safe. If level of development between two born humans doesn’t matter, why should it matter when protecting unborn humans?
  • Environment: During her appearance on “The View”, Tomi stated that the government needs to “stay out of her body”. This can be fairly reasonable; after all, who wants a nosy bureaucrat from Washington performing exploratory surgery against one’s will? However, this misses the point. Given that the unborn is located inside one’s body, does this really matter as to whether they can be killed whenever it suits our immediate needs? How does one's current environment determine the most basic protections from harm they are entitled to?
  • Degree of Dependency: Yes, it is true. The unborn are far more dependent on their mothers for their very lives before birth. Again, what exactly does this prove? Why should anyone accept that those who have reached a certain degree of physical independence from their mothers are the only ones deserving of legal protections from being killed? This raises another question: What degree of independence should we go with in attributing protections? As the Roe court ruled, before fetal viability(The time when an unborn human can live outside the womb) the government has no interests in protecting prenatal life. This may seem reasonable to some, but why is viability the marker of who can be protected or not? Why didn't the court rule that babies who need additional medical care after birth don't merit a "state interest"? Or how about children who can't walk without any assistance yet? Or children who cannot ride their bikes without "training wheels"? They are still remotely dependent on adult support, so why isn't that the degree of who deserves protection? It seems that dependency is a poor way of determining who gets to live and die.




Tomi Lahren's assuming of the unborn not being human needs to be called out, clearly and concisely. By asserting that conservatives need to move on past Roe vs. Wade so that the nation won't shift Left in it's politics, she is saying that millions of lives simply don't matter enough to warrant our protection. The American conservative wishes to protect the values that were put in place when the United States was being founded, not shift away from them when votes are on the line.
That means the unborn are worth every ounce of our efforts to protect them in law, and conserve what the American founders saw as “...truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Responding to Back Alley Logic Butchers

We are living through a zombie apocalypse of sorts, rhetorically speaking. Old arguments that should have died long ago in light of solid responses keep finding new life in the "blogosphere" and on social media, especially with abortion finding its way back into the public dialogue due to recent events in Ireland and the United States.

Common among these arguments is the claim that pro-life legislation will lead to scores of dead women. From "back alley butcher" statements to feminists protesters waving coat hangers at rallies, to claims that thousands of women will die if abortion is made illegal, the argument is, like a horror movie zombie, still coming around. Even some college professors(Who really ought to know better) have repeated these sound bites.

Ironically absent these cries of supposed fear is any real rebuttal to the pro-life argument:

Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.

Premise 2: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.

Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

As philosopher Chris Kaczor points out, questions about women's health and abortion are indeed important, but they still fail to settle the question of the moral admissibility of the act of abortion itself. Do we have any obligations to protect innocent human beings before birth in society and our law? Or can we dispose of them whenever their existence becomes a burden upon us? Philosopher Mary Anne Warren, herself an advocate of abortion, is in agreement; highlighting that murder is wrong regardless of the social consequences of prohibiting it.

This raises a question: Should the law protect the innocent from being intentionally harmed, even though some may be unintentionally killed as a result? Consider that some have been killed accidentally by unsuspecting family members when entering their own residence late at night, being mistaken for a burglar. This is undoubtedly a major tragedy, especially for the family. But does it logically follow that the moral position a society should take is to legalize armed burglary so that no one accidentally dies in this manner?

For another example, should armed robbery(stealing items off a person directly) be made legal so that no one gets accidentally shot by an overly nervous, trigger happy pedestrian walking through a high crime part of town? This is also a tragedy, but it is going to be really hard to argue that this is grounds for abolishing laws against robbery.

Aside from the logical mistakes, there is an honesty question that needs to be asked of our critics: If pro-lifers were to propose a law that restricted abortion but also made sure that no woman had to seek out a "back alley butcher", would our critics then join us in opposing abortion? Some may say yes, but many will still retort that "Abortion is a fundamental right." Ah, but that is the question at hand. Abortion is only a fundamental right if it is a moral act, and it is only a moral act if the unborn are not human. That needs to be argued for, and not simply asserted. This goes for everyone, on Twitter and in the academy.

One last point on the topic, those who raise the concern of women dying from illegal abortions do have some explaining to do. By what basis do we know that "[abolishing abortion] will be a death sentence for thousands of women", as the Women's March responded to the nomination of a pro-life Supreme Court Justice recently? Very often there is little to no support provided for the claim. As the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson(a former abortionist) points out, there is very little support to back up the claim:

"How many deaths were we talking about when abortion was illegal? In N.A.R.A.L., we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always "5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year." I confess that I knew the figures were totally false, and I suppose the others did too if they stopped to think of it. But in the "morality" of our revolution, it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics? The overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible." (Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., Aborting America (New York: Pinnacle Books, 1979), 193)
While more can be said about the actual data on the number of deaths from illegal abortions in the pre-Roe years( Abort73 has a good list of sources, which can be found at http://www.abort73.com/end_abortion/what_about_illegal_abortions/. Also see Erika Bachiochi's The Cost of Choice: Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion)

The purpose of the objection itself needs to be questioned. Are those who raise it doing so out of an emphasis on truth, or as a means of fear-mongering in an already tense political climate? With women dying even during the era of legal abortion in the United States at the hands of men like Kermit Gosnell, it should be obvious that those who truly care for the needs of American women would be willing to consider all the implications of legal abortion today, not just the immediate emotions that all too often drive cultural debates.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Definition That Just Won't Die

They are onto us. We've finally been made. People who oppose the intentional killing of innocent human beings in the womb are mean, nasty, rich, and don't give a rip about starving or homeless children. We aren't pro-life unless we feed starving kids or give them shelter.

How do I know? Because a meme like this one said so.


Question for Ms. Isabel: And the problem is what exactly? Let's suppose pro-life people are mean, nasty, fetus freaks who don't give a rip about starving kids like pictured above. How does that entail that the unborn are not human, and we may do with them as we please, including intentionally kill them?

It doesn't follow logically at all. The pro-life movement is arguing that it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Abortion does that. Therefore, abortion is wrong.

An honesty question is in order when the assertion that pro-lifers only care about the unborn is made: If pro-lifers were to devote an equal amount of time to feeding and housing born children in a bad circumstance, would our opponents join us in opposing abortion? If they say no, then they have simply trotted out suffering children in order to score rhetorical points against their opponents. Chances are, if those opposed to abortion were to take responsibility for ending every social evil under the sun before focusing on abortion, our opponents would find another reason to excuse it.

Setting aside the fact that pro-lifers do actually care about the born and the unborn, which becomes obvious if one is willing to take an honest look, the humanity of the unborn is a question that has to be resolved regardless of how nice pro-lifers are. Even if pro-life people were the meanest, cruelest, most fanatical people on the planet, it still would not follow that we could justifiably end the life of an unborn child. That has to be argued for, and not merely asserted.

 Saying that pro-lifers need to do more in order to be taken seriously is dishonest and a foolish attempt to change the subject. Until our opponents use the science of embryology to show that the unborn are not human, or moral reasoning to show that we have no duty as a society to value them, then nothing has been accomplished by pointing to other issues that are arguably not as urgent in scope or in nature.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Current Immigration Crisis and Abortion


Imagine someone telling an anti-trafficking organization that if they really cared for children, they would do more to address poverty in India that harms large numbers of children every year. Imagine someone telling a clinic engaging in cancer research that if they really cared about healing people of sickness, they would also focus on research for diabetes and Crohn’s disease. These are ridiculous accusations, yet pro-lifers get them very often.

I have seen recent news headlines aimed at pro-lifers for being silent on the issues surrounding immigrants at the border. It is being said that if one is truly pro-life and pro-family, one must also care and be involved in protecting children who are being brought into the country illegally by their parents. Make no mistake, I believe that the lives of immigrants and their children are valuable and important. They are made in the image of God just like you and me.  The issues of immigrant children and abortion are not the same, yet the two are being equated in such a way as to attack the motives and sincerity of pro-life individuals.

The fact that there are very important issues regarding immigrant children at the border is not comparable with intentionally dismembering, poisoning, crushing, and burning a little human to death.

If the tables were turned, we might equate their seeming disregard for unborn human beings with having no credibility when it comes to “caring” about immigrant children. If this is really about consistency, wouldn’t it make sense to want to protect human beings in all stages of development whether they are at the border or in the womb? Why do many people seem to only care about children when it suits a political agenda they have? There have been cases in the news where an illegal immigrant wished to receive an abortion while in detention at the border. Many people showed support for her “right” to have an abortion. If all the outrage over the border crisis was genuinely about caring for human beings, why was the concern only shown for the born immigrant? What about the unborn immigrant? It is wrong to mistreat an immigrant, legal or not legal. If this issue were really about human rights, then where is all the outrage over the 3,000 innocent human beings that get murdered in the womb every day by poisoning, crushing and dismembering?


Suppose pro-lifers are terrible human beings who care nothing about immigrant children. How does that justify ending the life of an innocent human being? It doesn’t. The immigration issue being raised against pro-lifers is a clever ad hominem that impugns the motives and sincerity of pro-lifers.


The issues of abortion and immigrant children are both important. Please don’t read this post and  think I don’t care about the immigration issue. I do care. We should be concerned about children and families coming into this country, and the problems we face at the border. But we should also be deeply concerned about living in a culture that dehumanizes a group of people simply because they are unwanted and inconvenient: the unborn. I have chosen to focus time and effort in fighting the particular evil of abortion. If a person tries to attack every social ill in society, that person’s effectiveness will be diminished. Do not impugn the motives or the operational objectives of pro-lifers as they seek to create a culture that values human life from conception to natural death. Our objection to the moral evil of abortion does not make us responsible for the issues with children at the border.



Friday, May 11, 2018

How Consistent Do We Need To Be?

Source: LiveAction https://www.liveaction.org/news/amazing-photos-of-preborn-babies-in-the-womb-show-that-life-begins-at-fertilization/

Pro-Lifers like me are inconsiderate, hypocritical jerks.

That's what you will think if you spend enough time listening to those who criticize pro-life conservatives for their alleged inconsistency. Consider the words of Pastor John Pavlovitz during the 2016 Presidential Election, a writer, activist and so-called star of the religious left:

"I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you practice a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you, comprises a very narrow demographic—one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.
You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses." -John Pavlovitz, "GOP-I Wish You Really Were "Pro-Life"
Pastor Pavlovitz then goes on a very emotional diatribe about the alleged inconsistencies of conservative pro-life advocates, highlighting how they are not really "Pro-Life" unless they take the time to address every other issue of controversy.

Aside from not citing a single example of pro-lifers actually arguing that only "straight, white, Christian fetuses" should be spared from abortion, and also ignoring the work of pro-life advocates like Star Parker, Dr. Alveda King, Christina Marie Bennett, and many others, all of whom uniquely focus on the problem of abortion in minority communities, he doesn't provide a single explanation for why any of the issues he lists need to be addressed with the same seriousness as abortion. He simply assumes moral equivalency, without providing any arguments for that assumption whatsoever. He then goes on to ridicule his opponents for what he sees as selectively valuing only life until birth.

Apart from these gross academic errors, I would raise a question for Pastor Pavlovitz: Let's assume that pro-lifers like myself actually did everything he was asking of us. We supported socialized medicine, ending capital punishment, gun control, police reform, and the military. Will Pavlovitz and those who make this kind of argument then join us in opposing abortion on demand? Chances are, they will say no, to which one should respond, "Then why bring up our supposed inconsistency in the first place? If you support abortion, then offer a defense of it, instead of attacking me personally."

To cite another example, a few weeks ago I was helping put up a graphic abortion display at San Diego State University. A young woman, quite angrily, began asking me whether or not I opposed war, inhuman treatment of animals, or supported same-sex marriage. Stopping her so I could offer a response, I asked the following:

"Tell me, if I were to join you in supporting all your views on those issues, would you then join us in opposing elective abortion?"
"Of course not! I am solidly, 100% pro-choice!"
To which I responded, "Then why did you highlight those other issues, which really have nothing to do with abortion, when you support any abortion for whatever reason? Why not offer a defense of that, instead of changing the subject?"

Instead of refuting the pro-life argument, bringing up supposedly inconsistent beliefs does nothing to justify killing a preborn baby. It's simply a lazy way to change the subject and score cheap points by making people you disagree with look bad. Such a behavior is pretty unbecoming of anyone claiming to be educated, let alone claiming to support justice.

Mr. Pavlovitz, I wish you really did care about social justice.




Thursday, May 10, 2018

Personhood Theory: The False Dichotomy Between Humans and Persons


Surrounding the abortion debate, there is a distinction that is made between being a human and being a person. Advocates for abortion argue that just because someone is human does not necessarily mean they are a person. The argument is no longer about whether or not the unborn are human. That is clearly established through the science of embryology. Personhood is now the benchmark of determining value and worth as a human being. The problem is that no one agrees when personhood begins. Some say it is ability to feel pain, others say it is cognitive awareness, while others argue it is the ability to exercise rational thought.

Dichotomizing the human and the person provides the pathway for egregious injustice. We are not the first people in history to apply this theory and use language in a way that denies an entire group of people their rights as human beings. Hitler used dehumanizing language against the Jews and they were not seen as persons. Americans used dehumanizing language against blacks, and they were not viewed as persons. Now we use dehumanizing language against the unborn claiming they are not “persons” like us until they can meet some arbitrary standard. We are familiar with the saying that those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it, but even those who do know history still allow evils to repeat themselves. They come back to us in different forms with different groups of people being targeted. Every time the injustice is vehemently defended so that people can feel moral and pious in their advocating for evil. This is what has happened with abortion.

Abortion rights hide behind a selfish fa├žade of human rights, women’s rights, and personal freedom. We do not have the right to do what is wrong. Our human rights should never trample on someone else’s right to life. The personhood theory places value on a human being based on what they can do for society. A short story by Philip Dick called “The Pre-Persons” written in 1974 illustrates the slippery slope that personhood theory places on society. In that world, no one was a person until they were twelve years old and capable of doing algebra. This standard was enforced by a totalitarian state. The personhood theory now pushed in America has not reached that extreme but who’s to say it won’t in the future? Many bio-ethicists already support infanticide and euthanasia based on the personhood theory. When our value as human beings is based on what we do, no one is safe. Right now, people attribute personhood to an ability to feel pain, a capacity for cortical brain functioning, reasoning, viability or consciousness. Everyone exercises these things in varying degrees in their life. Who’s to say that these give us value and magically make us persons? Arbitrary standards for being persons need to be resisted. We are valuable simply because we are human. If personhood theory is correct, equal human rights are non-existent. Be on your guard against the dichotomy of humans and persons. One day, the state might decide you are not a person based on some arbitrary function you cannot adequately exercise.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Why The Church Must View Abortion Images

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ gives a powerful message to His audience on the dangers of focusing so hard on being religious that we overlook those most in need of our help. (Luke 10:25-37). Using as examples a Jewish Priest and Levite who simply passed on by a man who had fallen prey to a group of robbers while traveling to Jericho, he highlights that it was a Samaritan, a class hated by the first century Jewish community, who best exemplified the commandment to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Today, the danger of passing by those in need on the issue of abortion has to be continually emphasized in the church. Consider the following data, collected and published by CareNet:


  • 4 in 10 women who had an abortion were churchgoers at the time of their decision
  • Only 7% of women discussed their abortion with anyone at church
  • Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.

  • A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
  • Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
  • Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options

Clearly, abortion happens far more within church congregations than many are comfortable admitting. However, there are many within the church today who think that this issue is overly discussed, and needs to be talked about less in contrast with other issues. Consider the following comments from Pastor A.R. Bernard. He asserts that the church should focus less on "personal sins" like abortion and same-sex marriage, because black evangelicals like himself are more concerned with other issues, like police shootings and "income inequality". 

Aside from the debates over whether those are major problems today(For more on these topics, see Walter E. Williams "Race and Economics" and Thomas Sowell's "Discrimination and Disparities") the moral problem of abortion still remains for the church: If 900,000 women are having abortions in America per year, and 4 in 10 women who have abortions were attending church at the time, then 225,000 or more abortion minded women were sitting in church pews across our nation in one year's time. That is not a small number. 

What leads many church leaders to shy away from discussing abortion? I'm convinced it's because the church doesn't want to talk about the act of abortion itself. Many will talk about it in terms of an abstract, political issue(And many then go on to add "But we don't talk about politics here") But most will never show their congregations just what an abortion does. In fact, I am convinced that many leaders aren't aware of the horrific nature of the abortion act itself.

This is a wrong approach, I think. If congregations and church members are not aware of just what abortion does to the unborn child(And to her mother) then if follows that they won't stop to consider the ramifications of that decision, both morally and spiritually. This is why I think, now more than ever, congregations must compassionately address the issue today by showing abortion, exactly as it is, through pictures of what it actually does. If 225,000 preborn children a year are at risk of being killed, then to not address this issue is to pass by on the "other side of the road" when our neighbors are in the most need. 

I think the method of showing abortion imagery that is used by pro-life speakers at LTI and elsewhere, such as Scott Klusendorf, Greg Koukl, and Dr. Mike Adams, among others, is the best method for doing this. They will give the context for showing the images, and will make the viewing optional by dimming lights or cutting out the sound from the video. Children who are under the age of 13 are sometimes encouraged to leave the room, but parents can make the decision to let them watch if they so choose. If in front of a church audience, they will show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives the best answer and hope to those in the congregation who have experienced abortion, or know someone who has. Even more so, having a post-abortion healing ministry present at the church or resources on hand can help those who most need help. Groups like Silent No More and Surrendering the Secret are phenomenal in helping post-abortive men and women find the hope and forgiveness that is offered by Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, there are some pro-life speakers who have sprung the images on audiences without warning; however, if appropriate warning is given, congregations will not only know the need for engaging on the abortion issue, they will know what exactly is at stake with abortion itself: The intentional killing of an innocent human being.

Some may object and will raise the concern that this will cause guilt for those who have experienced abortion, which is a valid concern. However, I think the better question to be asked is: Are we really helping anyone by not addressing the issue? You may remember several years ago when a French Court banned a video of Down's Syndrome children because it may unintentionally cause guilt for women who had made the decision to abort their child because he or she had been diagnosed with the disorder. That should raise a question: How far are we willing to go to spare someone guilt? Should we hide the truth so as to ensure that no one experiences pain? Or should we show the truth in a manner that will obviously raise pain, but in such a way that can help bring those in pain to find healing? And if showing that truth can help others avoid the future pain of a bad decision, is it worth the risk? I think the answer is obvious.

Jesus called out those who pass by on the other side of the road when their neighbors are in the most need of their life. When our neighbors' lives are at stake, avoiding truth is not an option.